Saturday, November 29, 2014

Experimenting with fermentation and Asian flavors- Kimchi

It's time to make some kimchi. It really is. With all the culinary exploration we've been doing at The Little Lake House I have regrettably forgotten this Korean flavor powerhouse. Many times I've said "I need to grab some kimchi" or "I have all these jars, I should make some kimchi." Well now that time has come- I AM going to make some kimchi. 

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I have never tried Korean food. No reason why, just never have. One of my very best friends, Andi, is Korean and makes kimchi, so she is going to be my kimchi mentor. Andi and I have awesome food conversations. Her recipe for tomato jam changed my life. We can spend an entire day going back and forth with recipes, things we saw at the grocery store, food blogs we've read, and what we're having for lunch. So Andi will be offering her expertise as I start this project, and her thoughts on the finished product.

Cutting the scallions into little bitty matchsticks was a bit
time consuming but worth it for a beautiful batch of kimchi.
Asian foods rely heavily on vegetables- for flavor, for texture- and freshness is critical. As a fermented food, kimchi needs to be made from the absolute freshest ingredients you can get your hands on. Napa cabbage is one of my very favorite vegetables. I've made many delicious stir fried dishes and even egg rolls with it. I love spicy foods so this will be right up my alley with the Korean red pepper. Fresh ginger, garlic, scallions and carrots will also be in this party. Fairly simple ingredients and a short fermentation period will bring everything together, and I'll be enjoying fresh homemade kimchi before long!

You will need-
  • 1 head Napa cabbage       
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
Remove the ugly outer leaved of the cabbages. Cut them in half lengthwise, slice into 2 inch slices. Using a large bowl or stockpot, layer the cabbage with the sea salt. Cover with a towel and let rest for about an hour, mixing up the cabbage every once in a while, using your hands to squeeze the cabbage a bit, to release the liquid.

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Pack the kimchi into a large jar or crock (those half gallon canning jars are great for this, but one large crock or bucket will do in a pinch). There should be enough liquid to completely cover the vegetables.

Place the lids loosely on the jars (or cover crock with a towel if you don't have a lid) and set the jars on a baking sheet in case of overflows. Allow the kimchi to ferment for 5 days, mixing and packing the cabbage down several times, then store in refrigerator. If you used a crock, pack the kimchi in quart jars.

This smells soooo amazing right now.
*NOTE- If you find that the cabbage hasn't quite given off enough liquid to adequately cover the vegetables, and you MUST keep them submerged in brine during the entire fermentation process, you can make some additional brine to top it off. Combine 2 cups water with 2 tablespoons sea salt and stir to dissolve the salt completely. 

Three pints of spicy, crunchy kimchi
Now that I've got some kimchi going, I can plan some recipes and dishes to use it in. For sure I will be making mandu, a Korean dumpling, and lots of other delicious things. I'll be looking to Andi and anyone else who loves Korean food, for some great ideas.

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